Bioblitz discovers 10 at-risk species on conservation lands near Grasslands National Park
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has found 10 species at risk on its large Wideview Complex — a major project in southwest Saskatchewan conserved earlier this year. Wideview covers 1,222 hectares (3,021 acres) of rolling hills and native grasslands in the Milk River Basin Natural Area.
This summer, NCC staff and volunteers conducted a bioblitz — a conservation activity that involves documenting all species found on the property, including species at risk. The information collected is used to make decisions on how best to manage habitat for those species.
Canada’s temperate grasslands are considered the world’s most endangered ecosystem. Grassland birds in Canada have shown major declines in the past four decades. NCC’s team was pleased to record the presence of threatened birds, such as Sprague’s pipit, loggerhead shrike and common nighthawk, in its survey. Common nighthawks are carnivores that eat a variety of insects and can consume approximately 500 mosquitos a day.
Other results focused on the prairie population of northern leopard frog, which is a species of special concern. Particular threats to the frog include habitat degradation and loss due to conversion, wetland draining and habitat fragmentation as well as predation by invasive game fish, steam bank erosion and pesticides.
A well-functioning ecosystem depends on the health of all its parts. Maintaining these species increases biodiversity and a diverse ecosystem is are better able to respond to threats and sustain the life that depends upon it.
The Wideview Complex conservation project is a success because of the generous financial support of a number of partners. The Government of Canada is a major contributor through the Habitat Stewardship Program and through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, a public-private partnership to accelerate private land conservation in Canada. The Government of Saskatchewan provided funding through the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund. Other private and individual contributors have dedicated funds to the project.
“Discovering this many species at risk on the Wideview property shows there’s hope in conservation. As grasslands continue to disappear, these iconic animals are also disappearing. Their presence is an indication of the health of the ecosystem and what the Nature Conservancy of Canada is doing right to care for it,” Jennifer McKillop, director of conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Saskatchewan.
- Grasslands are considered the world’s most endangered ecosystem as, globally, more than 50 per cent have been lost to development. In Saskatchewan, 80 per cent of the original grasslands have been lost to development.
- NCC provides public on-foot access at almost all of its properties, including the Wideview Complex.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading private, not-for-profit land conservation organization, protecting vital natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. In Saskatchewan, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has conserved over 60,700 hectares (150,000 acres) of ecologically significant land through land donations, purchases and conservation agreements.
The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership to accelerate the pace of land conservation across southern Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) manages the program. Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.
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